The C-5 Galaxy is a heavy-cargo transport designed to provide strategic airlift for deployment and supply of combat and support forces. The C-5 can carry unusually large and heavy cargo for intercontinental ranges at jet speeds. The plane can take off and land in relatively short distances and taxi on substandard surfaces during emergency operations. The C-5 and the smaller C-141B Starlifter are strategic airlift partners. Together they carry fully equipped, combat-ready troops to any area in the world on short notice and provide full field support necessary to maintain a fighting force.
The Galaxy is one of the world's largest aircraft. It is almost as long as a football field and as high as a six-story building and has a cargo compartment about the size of an eight-lane bowling alley. The C-5 is the only aircraft that can transport any of the Army's combat equipment, including the 74-ton (66,600-kilogram) mobile scissors bridge, tanks and helicopters. The maximum weight for takeoff during peacetime is 769,000 pounds, and the allowance increases to 840,000 pounds in wartime. However, the plane has been flight tested at more than one million pounds at the Air Force Test Center at Edwards, AFB.
Using the front and rear cargo openings, the Galaxy can be loaded and off-loaded at the same time. Both nose and rear doors open the full width and height of the cargo compartment, allowing drive-through loading and unloading of wheeled and tracked vehicles, and faster, easier loading of bulky equipment. A "kneeling" landing gear system lowers the aircraft's cargo floor to truck-bed height. The entire cargo floor has a roller system for rapid handling of palletized equipment. Thirty-six fully loaded pallets can be loaded aboard in about 90 minutes.
The length of the C-5A cargo deck, excluding the loading ramps, is about 121 feet, and the maximum width is 19 feet. The height of the cargo compartment is 13.5 feet. In addition to the lower cargo compartment, the fuselage also has an upper deck divided into three sections. The forward section contains the flight deck and is followed by a rest area for 15 people that is usually occupied by relief crews. The flight crew of five persons consists of the pilot, copilot, flight engineer, navigator, and load master. Behind the rest area is a passenger compartment that will accommodate 75 fully equipped troops. The lower cargo compartment may also be utilized for troop transport; for this purpose, the aircraft can carry 270 soldiers. Both the lower cargo compartment and the upper deck are fully pressurized.
Except for emergencies or unusual circumstances, the C-5 does not carry troops in the lower-deck cargo compartment; but 73 seats are available in the rear compartment of the upper deck for personnel and operators of equipment being airlifted. The troop compartment is located in the aircraft’s upper deck. It is self-contained with a galley, two lavatories, and 73 available passenger seats. Another 267 airline seats may be installed on the cargo compartment floor (maximum combined total of 329 troops including air crew over water).
The forward upper deck accommodates a crew of six, a relief crew of seven, and eight mail or message couriers. The flight deck has work stations for the pilot, co-pilot, two flight engineers and two loadmasters. The upper deck's forward and rear compartments have galleys for food preparation, as well as lavatories.
Ordered under a totally new procurement concept designed to control costs, the C–5A aircraft ended up costing a small fortune. Its purchase in 1965 depended on achieving an initial operational capability no later than 1969, but the transport did not appear in South Vietnam in a truly operational capacity until August 1971.
The 81st and final C–5A rolled out of Lockheed's Marietta plant on 31 January 1973, and the Military Airlift Command accepted delivery of the aircraft on 18 May 1973.
The first C-5B, incorporating significant improvements such as updated avionics, was delivered to Altus Air Force Base in January 1986. C-5 production concluded with delivery of the last "B" model aircraft in April 1989.
The 436th Supply Squadrons, Fuels Management Flight, Dover AFB, DE, team performs their missions with the 436th Special Operations Squadron. These missions are flown on the newest version of the C-5. The C-5B has the improved upgrade radar systems, allowing the aircraft to fly in adverse weather, making it invaluable in the Special Operations Low Level role. One other benefit of the C-5B is its ability to perform a six-point FARP operation, where six helicopters can be refueled simultaneously by connect ing three hoses to each wing of the C-5, then connecting the ends of the hoses to each helicopter.
The C-5C is a Space Cargo Modified Galaxy specially modified to carry satellites and other large cargo. It is the only modified version of the C-5 that provides special airlift support for satellites. With the troop compartment removed and modification to their rear loading doors, it has a larger cargo area than other C-5s. There are two places to plug in external power, one for aircraft power and one to provide power for the payload canister.
Spacecraft, such as the space station node, are transported in a special canister, called the Space Container Transportation System (SCTS), which was built to fit into a military airplane, specifically a specially modified C-5C. The C-5C is the only aircraft that this canister will fit into, and it takes almost the entire cargo space. If a mechanical problem arises with the plane making it unusable, there is only one additional specially modified C-5C to use. The C-5C carrying the SCTS frequently arrives late at night, with offload immediately after arrival. Offload from the C-5C is an operation which can take about six hours to complete. The clearance between the SCTS canister and the walls/ceiling of the plane is about one inch. Moving the canister requires very slow, precise movements; basically it is inched out of the cargo bay.
On 10 December 1999 a C-130 Hercules was damaged in an aborted landing at Al Jabar Air Base, Kuwait, killing three and injuring 17 aboard, then diverted to an emergency landing at Kuwait City International Airport. The fuselage will be saved for evidence in the investigation and possible court martial of the pilot. Team members left Robins 17 November 2000 to transport the hulk to the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, AZ. A 15-man team from the 653rd Combat Logistics Support Squadron prepared the wrecked C-130 carcass in Kuwait for transport to the “boneyard.” The team used a 16-inch metal saw and a jury-rigged axle to prepare the fallen Hercules for loading into the hold of a C-5C Galaxy.
The most dramatic display of the Galaxy's capability and value was during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The C-5, along with other Air Force transport aircraft, airlifted almost a half-million passengers and more than 577,000 tons (519,300 metric tons) of cargo. This included 15 air-transportable hospitals and the more than 5,000 medical personnel to run them, and more than 211 tons (189.9 metric tons) of mail to and from the men and women in the Middle East - each day. Altogether, Desert Shield and Desert Storm required the services of 80 percent of the Air Force's C–141 Starlifter fleet and 90 percent of the C–5s. These aircraft moved nearly three quarters of the air cargo and one third of the personnel airlifted into the Gulf region. Since the C–5's capacity by far exceed that of the C–141, the deployment afforded an impressive vindication of the often criticized C–5 Galaxy.
There are two basic types of C-5 crews, basic and augmented. The largest C-5 crew can be up to 22 members. Normally, however, a crew is between 8 and 12 members. A basic crew requires 2 pilots, 2 flight engineers, and 2 loadmasters. An augmented crew must have 3 pilots (normally one Aircraft Commander, one first pilot, and one co-pilot), 2 first engineers, and 3 loadmasters. Most crews also have at least 1 crew chief.
The aircraft commander commands aircrews operating C-5 transport aircraft on AMC worldwide strategic airlift missions ranging from Joint Command Staff-directed exercises to short-notice contingency response operations. Manages crews consisting of up to 22 crew members and is responsible for the safe and efficient completion of assigned airlift missions in the largest aircraft in the Air Force inventory.
The co-pilot assists in command and supervision of aircrews operating the C-5 aircraft on worldwide strategic airlift missions. Responsible to the aircraft commander for the safe and efficient completion of assigned airlift missions including Joint Command Staff-directed exercises and contingency response operations. Assists in mission preparation to include flight planning, fuel planning, and coordination with command and control. Transports and safeguards classified documents/cargo. Maintains proficiency in instrument, normal, and emergency procedures in the USAF's largest strategic airlift asset.
Th C-5 Flight Engineer performs as a primary crewmember in both the primary flight engineer and scanner positions on C-5 aircraft. Evaluates aircraft systems for proper operation during preflight, thruflight, and postflight inspections. Maintains continuous monitoring of power plant, fuel, pneumatic, electrical, hydraulic and pressurization systems, and is responsible for proper fuel sequencing during aircraft operations. Operates and troubleshoots aircraft systems using in-flight computer. Computes aircraft performance data for normal and emergency flight conditions. Calculates and applies weight and balance data and maintains in-flight records.
The loadmaster supervises loading and off-loading operations of C-5 aircraft. Performs aircrew preflight, thruflight and postflight of aircraft and performs cargo pre-load inspections. Operates aircraft systems for positioning of aircraft cargo doors and ramps. Preplans cargo and passenger load distribution, computes aircraft weight and balance documents, inspects cargo for proper configuration and arranges equipment and supplies for passenger comfort. Insures safety and security of cargo, mail and baggage in flight. Fulfills border clearance requirements. Represents the aircraft commander in the cargo/troop compartments and directs all activities during normal and emergency operations. Participates in strategic joint exercises projecting national readiness posture.